Wikibooks:Reading room/Proposals

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Welcome to the Proposals reading room. On this page, Wikibookians are free to talk about suggestions for improving Wikibooks.

Cookbook week[edit]

Hello, I want to tell you that I've made a proposal for a Cookbook event on this Meta page.

I would be happy to see your comment ! Regards Archi38 (discusscontribs) 18:19, 15 May 2016 (UTC)

It's not WB Cookbook But WM Cookbook. --Doostdar (discusscontribs) 05:48, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

Category infrastructure[edit]

I propose some simple upgrades to our category infrastructure, which I think has been recognized as a problem for years. It's been upgraded a few times, and those were improvements imho, but it seems to me things can get a whole lot better with this next step I'll describe below. The two basic problems are that  (1) the current system is confusing, and  (2) it underrepresents the content of our books, which reduces the ability of readers to find relevant information and reduces the ability of other projects to provide sister links (for example, if Wikinews or Wikipedia or Wikiquote has a page about Barack Obama, they can't readily provide a sister link to Wikibooks because our category infrastructure doesn't support having a page like that).

So here are my ideas, all of which would be implemented in an incremental way that wouldn't break anything during the transition (I'm confident that can be done, and would see it through):

  • Book categories would have prefix Book:, and subject categories would have prefix Subject:.
Thus, the nature of every such category would be instantly apparent. For example, right now book European History has book category Category:European History and belongs to subject category Category:European history, which is confusing both when setting up the categories and when looking at the categories; as an admin, I've often had to untangle the results when people misunderstand how it all works. Under the new arrangement, these would be Category:Book:European History and Category:Subject:European history.
  • In addition, I suggest we have categories with prefix Keyword:, which are for categorizing page content.
Barack Obama would have a Category:Keyword:Barack Obama. It's important, I believe, to prefix all three kinds of categories, to keep very clear which is which.
  • There should be a template for adding pages to keyword categories, analogous to the existing {{Subjects}} for adding a book to subject categories.
Once we have that infrastructure in place, the task of populating the keyword categories will be simply an incremental thing that happens over a long period of time; I expect the process will get distinctly faster when, after a while, we get dialog-based semi-automated assistants on-line to help guide users through the tasks involved.
  • The list of subjects at the bottom of the main page of a book should link to the subject pages, not to the subject categories.
We've wanted to fix this for years; I can think of at least two possible ways to fix it, and mean to undertake that along with these other upgrades.

--Pi zero (discusscontribs) 15:19, 30 June 2016 (UTC)

I'd really like some feedback on this. Despite the smooth transition I envision, it's a significant change, and I wouldn't feel right moving forward on it entirely unilaterally. I'm willing to wait (heck, I don't think I would have been able to get started on it yet even if I'd been bowled over with enthusiastic responses when I first posted this); but really clarity about what others think on this is better to hear sooner than later. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 13:03, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
On the French Wikibooks we had voted a few years ago, not for a "Book:" prefix but for a " (book)" suffix (provided by {{BookCat}}). The subject categories had remained unchanged. So I could test this a while with Wikidata, and my conclusion is that there is no uniformization, sometimes the Wikipedia category is linked to a subject one, and sometimes to a book one, because when it's the only book of the subject, nobody creates a second redundant category. Moreover, here we are talking about thousands of categories, so I hope that you have some free time ;)
Concerning the "Keyword:", I was one of the firsts to use it for themes (hypernyms), but it has been cancelled for now. What about a categorizing template like {{k|Barack Obama}}?
But to sum up, the only point on which I would really disagree with you, would be to keep the "Subject:" pages, because I find these lists too much redundant with categories, and more painful to maintain. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 18:16, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Atm the subject pages are the only reason there's any order at all in the system; they're spectacularly not redundant. The categories are hopelessly confusing, exactly because you can't tell by looking at a category whether it's a collection of pages of a book, or a collection of books. We keep having to fix books whose classification by subject is messed up because a book-category is being mistaken for a subject-category. Fortunately we have a system in place so that problems of this kind automatically get flagged out for us; but with the changes I'm proposing the problem wouldn't happen in the first place.

If we kept the existing categories as they are and also added in categories for collections of pages that aren't necessarily in the same book, the whole thing would be profoundly worse.

However, it would all work smoothly if we introduce an iron-clad, instantly recognizable naming scheme. Which is what I'm proposing to do.

A prefix, with a colon, is absolutely unambiguous ("iron-clad") and is the first thing you see when looking at a category name (because English is read from left to right, of course). A suffix "(book)" doesn't work nearly as well; we have a few of those, for situations where our stop-gap naming convention fails to distinguish between the name of a book and the name of a subject. Moreover, if you look at the list of categories at the bottom of a page, and those categories have these prefixes on them, you'll know instantly exactly what all the things on that list are.

I've had practice with vast structural rearrangements like this. Such things can be done, and can be done smoothly. The fact that it has to be done on each of about 3000 books just means it has to be lined up carefully so that it can then be done gradually, with very simple changes at each book that don't require a lot of thought and aren't going to be done wrong, and everything will keep working right while the gradual change is going on. Often this means doing it in multiple stages, where each stage has to be finished before the next begins. If we want to phase out the subject pages as a separate namespace, the way to not get tangled up in that is to do everything else first, and leave that as a separate stage, to be undertaken only after the rest of it is complete. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 19:15, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

@JackPotte: Trying to sum this up: We need a clear, straightforward action plan. I'm offering one. I'm willing to implement it. And, honestly, if we find something about it really doesn't work, we can change it later — in fact, after doing this I expect another change will be easier because I'll already have done it once. In particular, as I said, if we want to eliminate the subject pages after the categories have been straightened out, that's cool. But I need some sort of go-ahead before I can proceed. Are you okay with seeing me move forward on this, given that I'm willing to do it and that the things I do can be revised later? --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 17:24, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
@Pi zero: you have my blessing, but it's typically a bot job, and I can't see any bot belonging to you. As I would like to avoid to waste your time, may I suggest to transform Wikibooks:Desired bots to something we could link to d:Q4582561? Then we would be able to post these specifications and to share the tasks or the scripts to do them. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 18:12, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
Re bots, the thought is appreciated, but I don't like bots. I really don't. It's not just a personal preference, I disapprove of them philosophically. Wikis should never be maintained by an unthinking entity; the human touch is what makes wikis precious. If I already had my semi-automation tools ported here from Wikinews (which I don't; I'm not satisfied with them yet), I could imagine semi-automation for this, and indeed I have hopes that in the long run almost everything now done with bots can be handled by semi-automation, but for now I have in mind to do things by hand. Which has one beneficial effect: it guarantees my action plan will be simple, and that everything will remain in a consistent state while the work is in progress, because those things have to be true in order for it to be done by hand. Honestly, editing 3000 pages isn't scary; you just need to make sure there's a way to know what has and hasn't been done, and if you do just 64 a day, a month and a half later it'll all be done. (Semi-automation might allow you to do it all in a week or less.) --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 18:37, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
(I may, indeed, be able to devise a way of doing it so I don't have to directly edit the book pages at all, at least for most of the changes involved; that would be ideal. The previous set of infrastructure changes was feasible exactly because Wikibooks was already using {{subjects}}.) --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 19:53, 28 August 2016 (UTC)

I think the first challenge I'll take on is adding prefix "Subject:" to the subject categories. It's occurred to me that all these category names appear verbatim in the DPLs on the subject pages (see for example Subject:History), and I'm not sure how I feel about all those book titles having "Book:" prefixed to them. Perhaps I just need to get used to the idea. I've been aware for years that there are lots of situations where one really wants to snarf a DPL and then somehow further process the results, which the DPL extension doesn't support at all. I have in mind to semi-automate it using my dialog tools once they're deployed but for now that's not yet an option. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 14:40, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

An advantage on your new system would be to automatically display {{Book search}} into the books categories only. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 07:05, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Good idea. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 09:04, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

Update: I've just been planning out the subject-categories campaign. As best I can figure, besides the categories themselves there are five key pages involved: Subject:Books by subject, {{Root subject}}, {{Subject page}}, {{Allbooks category}}, and {{Subjects}}; each of the five is transcluded on about two or three thousand pages (mostly, subject/category pages and the main pages of books). My basic plan is,  (1) modify the templates to support/populate the new as well as the old cats, and create the new ones;  (2) once the new cats are all available, modify things to use the new ones; and  (3) dispose of the old cats, not forgetting to do history merges when appropriate. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 16:14, 27 October 2016 (UTC)

Is the "Help" link right?[edit]

The "Help" link on the navbar on the left of every Wikibooks page links to

rather than

Was this intended? I checked that in the Japanese Wikibooks, their "Help" link navigates to their Wikibooks Help page, not their Wikimedia Help page. Greek Fellows (discusscontribs) 04:52, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

@Greek Fellows: Thanks for noticing this, and flagging it out to us. I think I've fixed it. (For the record: MediaWiki:Sidebar specifies helppage, which invokes MediaWiki:Helppage, which should have content Help:Contents. That page was deleted several years ago with reason "same as default"; maybe it was same as default then, but it isn't now, so I undeleted the page, then null-edited both pages to induce cache update.) --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 05:26, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

Small books[edit]

On the French and Portuguese Wikibooks we use a categorizing template on the books which seem finished but are too small to be split on several pages, and are not broadsheets to integrate elsewhere. That's why I've created {{Small book}} here and posted it on a first example to get your approval: Audiovisual Translation Modes. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 20:34, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

I've added {{broadsheet}} to be more precise in our maintenance tasks. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 15:33, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Linking policy[edit]

Wikibooks does not have a clear policy on linking like Wikivoyage and users are free to do anyhow they like. I think this is a big problem in a wiki project. --Doostdar (discusscontribs) 06:19, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

I had the same thought a few years ago, but {{Spam}} is a good basis. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 07:01, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
The place to look for these sorts of things is Using Wikibooks; it's probably addressed in there somewhere. We pin down some specific things that have to do with how our machinery works (such as {{BookCat}}, {{subjects}}, {{status}}), but otherwise we tend to go for broad principles (rather than highly regimented policies like the Wikivoyage one mentioned). There is, after all, a lot of leeway in how one can set up a book — in a certain sense Wikibooks is a confederation of about 3000 micro-projects (sharing some common principles and banding together for shared administrative infrastructure since most of them are far too small individually to warrant a whole wiki to themselves). --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 11:52, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
In a certain sense Wikibooks is a confederation of about 3000 micro-projects! Maybe you are talking about sub-projects: Cookbook and Wikijunior. So they should get independent to gain a better condition. --Doostdar (discusscontribs) 17:01, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
No, separate project status would not improve their condition, it would degrade their condition. The confederation isn't random, and Cookbook and Wikijunior benefit from being part of it. (Wikijunior is, btw, not "a" member of the confederation, but a bunch of members, and Cookbook demonstrates that the distinction between a single member and a collection of related members is itself sometimes fuzzy.) --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 17:09, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm learning new thing which I couldn't find in Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks?! It's only written that "Wikibooks includes both minor and major book-like projects." It seems vague to me. --Doostdar (discusscontribs) 07:35, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

Personally I vote to revert or at least rewrite this kind of link addition to avoid:

  1. any external link out of the references paragraph
  2. any link whose site is not a reference.

That's a kind of Wikipedia policy. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 11:33, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

Pretty much, yes. The exact nature of the exceptions will vary a bit from book to book, but generally one tries, over time, to find alternative ways to handle them. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 12:02, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

The Weblogs wikibook[edit]

The SQA unit DN81 11 Weblogs has been revised by H60D 45 Weblogs and will finish on 31/07/2016.

Is it Ok to update the existing wikibook for older unit DN81 11 to reflect changes or would it be best to create a new Wikibook for new unit H60D 45. Please advise:) a very new-to - wikibooks member keen to re-purpose existing content. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Le01ja (discusscontribs) 13:35, 5 September 2016

I think that you can update An Introduction to Weblogs. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 15:42, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

New Template Request[edit]

Hello, I need a new template named MongolUnicode-div in order to support advanced display of Manchu script. Such a template already exists on Wiki Incubator. You can just copy it here. Can you help me? Thanks.--Obonggi (discusscontribs) 19:01, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done {{Wp/mnc/MongolUnicode-div}}. JackPotte (discusscontribs) 19:20, 22 September 2016 (UTC)